New Construction

New Arizona High School Follows Academy Model

A high school scheduled to open this month near Phoenix in Arizona is following what it's calling an "academy-based, career-pathway focused education." Eastmark High School, part of the Queen Creek Unified School District in Mesa, will feature next-generation educational spaces as well as athletic and arts programs.

The campus is being built with a combination of voter-approved bond funds and state school facilities funding. Phase-1 of the project is 154,000 square feet with a capacity for about 1,350 students. The site is master planned for future phases to increase capacity to 2,700 to 2,800 students. The future spaces will accommodate an auxiliary gym, additional learning spaces, a performing and arts space and an auditorium.

The project broke ground in March 2018 on a 60-acre site. Orcutt | Winslow designed the high school, which is being built by Core Construction. According to local media coverage, the construction company used virtual reality technology to enable stakeholders to see what the new school would look like.

Students will attend classes within one of four distinct academies: STEM, medical and social health, business and marketing, and fine arts.

What's unique is that each academy will have its own space, which mimics what students would experience in the real world. As Principal Paul Gagnon explained in a video, the business and marketing students will be able to run a student store where they'll be able to market their materials. The fine arts students will work in an environment set up like a film and TV studio. The medical students will study in a space that mimics a hospital setting. And the STEM students will be "in an engineering lab where they can build things just like they would in any robotics-type setting."

As the academies grow, each will have dedicated specialists to serve as guidance counselors. Currently, the school is also seeking professional partnerships "so that our students can truly learn from the people that are doing the work out in the field and have access to that knowledge to make them more successful and more prepared for the future," said Gagnon.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.